In 1999, Frank Navarijo was sent to prison to serve 20 years for repeatedly assaulting a 5 year old relative. This child was 7 when she testified that she had been molested, even raped repeatedly with a knife. Last week, she stood before a judge and testified that it wasn't true; that her grandmother had manipulated her into accusing an innocent man.
The first time she recanted was before the trial, and then apparently again afterward, when she was 10 or 11. Navarijo filed an appeal in 2001, but his conviction was upheld:
“After reviewing the record of Navarijo's trial, we cannot conclude that Navarijo was denied a fair and impartial trial.”
Woven through the appeal are mentions of a phrase that I can only assume was first used by the defense; court school. Now, I can't be sure I'm reading this right, but it appears that they thought the child had been prepped in this 'court school' so that she could testify convincingly. From the prosecutor's closing statement:
“Ms. Huntzinger told you, during her closing arguments, that - talking about A.N., where you go to court school and you tell your story one more time. As if the - telling you directly that A.N. go - went to court school and she told people at court school her testimony. She talked about the allegations in this case and she talked about what Frank did to her.”
“She talked about what Frank did to her”...Which, if she's now telling the truth, was nothing. So what did they talk about? How did they talk about it? In the time between the 1998 outcry and 1999 conviction, how did nobody figure out that this child was being used?
In the opinion of the state of Texas, Frank Navarijo got a fair shake; a trial in which every 'i' was dotted, and every 't' was crossed. Whether or not the child was telling the truth or had been manipulated by others, they considered their asses to be covered, and that was the end of it.
Now Navarijo, who is 73 years old, will have to wait for the judge to decide what happens next. Affidavits from jurors have been filed, saying that the decision to convict was close and that if the child had denied it ever happened, as she is doing right now, they probably wouldn't have convicted him.
I'll keep an eye on this one; Normally I don't write about cases which haven't been resolved, but the original Navarijo trial seems to be very similar to Coy's, despite the gruesomeness of the accusations against Navarijo and the disparity in their sentences.